Author Archive

Barney Google: Vagabond Extraordinary—Popeyed Pioneer

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 at 12:01 AM
The frisky unrest of Billy De Beck’s style did not prove hospitable, in those early decades of the century, to ingenious plot architecture. The veerings of his inventions often supplanted suspense with the narrative veerings of a Henry Fielding or Tobias Smollett: a little more erotic, and Barney might have been a humorous gallivanter. But balcony scenes, innocuous or otherwise, found no place in Billy De Beck’s celebration of middle-aged buoyancy and enterprise.

Treasure Awaiting Rediscovery? (Maybe)

Posted by on December 17th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Frank Owen’s Ossie Tittle — an eccentric, outdoorsy Goon Show of a strip, fascinated this writer’s semi-infancy (6-7 years) during the corresponding calendar year of 1936. A Sunday strip in the all-color comics supplement of Hearst’s Sunday Mirror, for at least a couple of months, it was a solid chunk of imagine fodder, judging by my memories of the drawing. The cast recalled Washington Irving’s Ichabod Crane: a positive flock of scarecrows, grown-up Raggedy Anns and Andys, bolted from the cornfields.

A Gallery of Prigs: Fantasy and Fable in Calder Willingham’s Novel

Posted by on November 19th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Donald Phelps continues to meditate on Calder Willingham's novel about moral ambiguity and homosexuality, open and repressed, in a military academy.

Via Dolorosa: Preston Sturges’ The Power and the Glory

Posted by on October 19th, 2010 at 1:00 PM
A saturnine saga of an American bozo’s (Spencer Tracy as Tom Garner) mottled rise to eminence as a railway tycoon: The Power and the Glory (screenplay by Preston Sturges, direction, William K. Howard) opens with the tycoon’s sumptuous funeral mass. Then, between flashback episodes, a middle-aged couple (a longtime friend/employee, Henry, and his skeptical wife) debate Garner’s qualities as an American icon.

Black, White, and Red All Over: The Active Four-Year Life of Will Gould’s Big Red Barry

Posted by on April 16th, 2010 at 12:01 AM
A freely flowing course of lusty fantasy, with just sufficient tongue in its cheek to lighten both sentimentality and terror: sufficient for any comic-strip devotee to murmur hasta la vista to an endearing borderline-camp labor of nostalgic love.

Like a Mechanical Bird: The Peculiar Stoicism of David Wayne (Part Two of Two)

Posted by on March 3rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Besides Joseph Losey, one filmmaker, to my knowledge, provided David Wayne’s talents and presence with fully ample and honorable space: star stature. Previously: Part One.

Like a Mechanical Bird: The Peculiar Stoicism of David Wayne (Part One of Two)

Posted by on March 2nd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
An appreciation of character actor David Wayne.

The Wooden Boy: Onward and Upward

Posted by on February 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Angelo Patri’s Pinocchio in America is a a saga of immigrant boyhood in the U. S. A that actually enlarges upon the original's florid melodramatics and earthy vigor.

Lucky Jim: Very Good, Eddie

Posted by on February 12th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Preston Sturges’s Diamond Jim the corpulent life and gastronomic loves of 19th-century entrepreneur and (as here depicted by Edward Arnold) zealous chowhound, James Brady — is (as directed by Edward Sutherland, from Sturges’ screenplay) a cheerfully sensual

Which “End” is Up?: Some Reconsiderations of Calder Willingham’s End as a Man

Posted by on February 2nd, 2010 at 12:01 AM
Phelps critiques the book and the subsequent stage and film adaptations.


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